24-year-old told she needs $17,000 worth of cosmetic surgery.


I don’t know about you, but if someone asked me whether this woman needed to have plastic surgery, my answer would be a fairly vehement ‘no’.

phoebe hooke
24-year-old Phoebe Hooke was told to get $17,000 worth of cosmetic surgery.

24-year-old Phoebe Hooke, a journalist for CLEO magazine, recently went undercover and visited leading cosmetic surgeons around Sydney, and asked for their advice on what she needed to do to “fix” her face.

The answers were varied – in the sense that the doctors recommend a variety of procedures, not that anyone told her she looked more than fine just the way she is. A nose job, browlifts, fillers and botox and pretox (a cosmetic surgery aimed at women in their 20s) were just some of the helpful procedures offered to Phoebe.

The first cosmetic surgeon she saw told her that, “Your nose is dominating your face.”

And followed that up with the very polite explanation, “We need a plan to fix it. I don’t want to see some hanging kamikaze hawk thing going on.”

Others told her she needed a non-surgical brow lift (for only $3500), medical grade skincare (for an absolute bargain at $400), or that she should do something about her “missing cheekbones”.

cleo magazine
Hooke went undercover for CLEO magazine, to see what plastic surgeons would recommend she change about her face.

Hooke told News Ltd that one cosmetic consultant, “suggested plumping up my cheeks with fillers to balance out my ‘boxy masculine jawline’. I felt a lump in my throat. Being told my ‘best feature’ needs $1100-worth of dermal fillers is heartbreaking.”

“At first, there was a certain excitement that came from being told how I could improve my looks, a bit like having the offer of a real-life Insty filter,” Hooke said. “But there’s a comedown: are my flaws really that obvious?”

As CLEO editor Sharri Markson points out, this kind of advice from cosmetic surgeons is reflective of a society where increasingly younger and younger girls are made to feel they don’t compare to a Hollywood ideal where the standard of beauty relies on photoshopped images and personal trainers.

But more dangerously, advice like this from surgeons is actually exacerbating the issue.

Markson was quoted on Today Tonight yesterday, saying that “In this day and age, girls are much more insecure about the way they look. You’ve got plastic surgeons who are preying on their insecurities, making them feel bad about themselves by goading them into this sort of surgery.”

“Young women, who are not grown up enough to make these decisions, are desperate to get ahead in the world. They’re desperate to be beautiful, to fulfill their dreams, and so they can’t judge properly about whether they need these cosmetic procedures or not.”

The point is, ultimately, that most young women do not need plastic surgery. I would argue that most women, full stop, do not need plastic surgery.

But medical professionals should definitely not be telling 24-year-olds like Hooke that she needs to stop the onset of crow’s feet around the eyes. Or that she needs fillers to reshape her cheeks, or redefine her jawline.

plastic surgery
Professionals should not be advising young women to put a stop to their laugh lines, before they even appear.

Professionals should not be advising young women to put a stop to their laugh lines, before they even appear.

Cosmetic surgery is an industry. And because it’s a money-making venture, if young women show up on the doorstep of their practice, pleading to be fixed, these plastic surgeons are going to offer their services.

Other industries – fashion, advertising, film and television – are all complicit in the beauty myth, too. They are all guilty of selling us women a lie that they aren’t good enough – telling us that we need to look a certain way to prove our worth.

But maybe it’s time these beauty-based industries started seeing a little bit more than smooth, tanned skin and big eyes, pert noses and plump lips – and started seeing the faces they are talking and selling to. And noticing that those faces belong to real people.

Do you think cosmetic surgeons should be telling young, beautiful girls that they need to have work done? 


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